Trailokyanath Sanyal (Bengali: ত্রৈলোক্যনাথ সান্যাল) (also spelt Trailokya Nath Sanyal) was one of the Brahmo missionaries, who assisted in combining the ideals of traditional Vaishnavism with those of Brahmo Samaj. Through hundreds of devotional songs which he created, he developed Brahma Sangit, devotional songs of Brahmo Samaj, as an art form. Rabindranath Tagore later brought this musical art to perfection and popularised it in Bengal. Sanyal’s songs are till this day sung extensively with prayers of the Brahmo Samaj. He used to set his songs not only to classical tunes but also to a folk tune like Bhatiali and popular Ramprasadi.
The son of Ramnidhi Sanyal, the family belonged to Chakpanchanan in Nabadwip. He joined to Brahmo Samaj under the influence of Vijay Krishna Goswami and Aghore Nath Gupta in 1867. Those were turbulent days in the Brahmo Samaj. Keshub Chunder Sen and the progressives had formed the Brahmo Samaj of India in 1866.
On 24 January 1868, Keshub Chunder Sen, laid the foundation stone of his mandir (temple). On that day, he introduced the Vaishnava mode of propagation, namely a singing procession through the streets, called nagar sankirtan. Early in the morning before the glorious sunbeams had scarcely pierced through the dewy vestures of the retreating night, people in the streets heard the voice of the new band of singers. In the hymn composed for the occasion by Trailokyanath Sanyal, they sang:
- tora aere bhai!
- eto dine dukkho nisi holo abasan, nagare uthilo brohmonam.
- karo sabey anandete brohmo-sankirtan,
- paap-taap-o dhue jaabe jurabe jibon.
- Come, all of you, brothers!
- At last the night of sorrows has lifted, Brahma's name rises in town.
- Let everybody happily sing Brahmo-sankirtan without hesitation,
- Sin and repentance will wash away, life will be filled with satisfaction.
As the young reformers marched towards the site of the contemplated mandir, enthusiastically singing characteristic hymn, many thousands of citizens of all classes flocked to the streets, through which the former passed, to witness the new Brahmo street procession. The hymn and its manner of singing deeply impressed them.
Protap Chunder Mozoomdar has added, “Keshub held his nagar sankirtan with great flags inscribed with theistic mottoes… Vaishnava kirtans had degenerated into mobbish assemblies and it required great moral courage and deep religious compulsion to be able to borrow and reform them.”
Professor of Music
In 1869, Keshub Chunder Sen selected from his missionaries four persons and ordained them as adhypaks or professors of four old religions of the world. Gour Govinda Ray was made the professor of Hinduism, Protap Chunder Mozoomdar, the professor of Christianity, Aghore Nath Gupta, the professor of Buddhism and Girish Chandra Sen, the professor of Islam. Subsequently, Trailokya Nath Sanyal was ordained as an adhyapak of music and was known as the singing apostle of the New Dispensation. He was named Chiranjib Sharma by Keshub Chunder Sen.
Sanyal used to live in “Mangabari”, a house adjacent to “Kamal Kutir” in Kolkata. Every morning he used to have tea with another Brahmo missionary, Braja Gopal Niyogi and discuss about various matters. Although serious-minded he was a sweet tempered person. His songs and kirtans not only inspired great people like Keshub Chunder Sen, but also numerous others who were raised to a higher level of divine consciousness. He had given himself a name “Premdan”.
Apart from composing songs, he wrote extensively. Keshub Chunder Sen took part in one of his plays Navabrindavan, illustrating the principles of the New Dispensation. He travelled extensively as a missionary and had many well-wishers and followers throughout the country. He accompanied Keshub Chunder Sen to Mumbai when he went there in 1867 to establish links with the newly established Prarthana Samaj.
Vidhan Bharat, Bhakti Chaitanya Chandrika, Ishacharitamrita, Pather Sambal, Navabrindavan, Keshubcharit, Brahmo Samajer Itibritta, Sadhu Aghorenath, Vinshsatabdi, Brahmageeta, Geetaratnabalee (Vols I, II, III, and IV). Nava Sikshya, Garale Amrita, Sri Chaitanyer Jibon O Dharma.
- Kopf, David, The Brahmo Samaj and the Shaping of the Modern Indian Mind, 1979, pp. 238-9, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-03125-8
- Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali (editors), 1976/1998, Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary) Vol I, (in Bengali), pp. 161-2, ISBN 81-85626-65-0
- Sastri, Sivanath, History of the Brahmo Samaj, 1911-12/1993, pp. 140-141, Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.
- David Kopf , p. 224
- Sastri, Sivanath, p. 208.
- Niyogi, Niranjan, Smritir Gourab Smritir Sourav (The scent of glorious memories), 1969, (in Bengali), pp. 129-133.
- Sastri, Sivanath, p. 251.
- Sastri, Sivanath, p. 143
- Ghosh, Nirvarpriya, The Evolution of Navavidhan, 1930, pp. 170-171.